Sowing to harvest time: 26 to 30 weeks.

Yield: 3kg (6.5 lb) to a 3m (10ft) row.

Climate preferred: Cool temperate to subtropical.

Aspect: Open and sunny or partially shaded.

Soil: Any, provided it is well-drained.

Salsify, which is white-skinned, has a distinctive, somewhat fishy taste. Hence its other name: the vegetable oyster.  Scorzonera, which has black skin, has a similar flavour and both vegetables make delicious additions to winter meals.

Sowing and planting

The soil for both salsify and scorzoncra should be prepared by deep digging. If possible, remove any large stones which could cause the roots to fork. Two weeks before sowing (early mid-spring for salsify, late mid-spring for scorzonera) give the soil. A dressing of vegetable fertilizer at the rate of 135gm per sq m (4oz per sq yd) and then rake the soil to make it fine and crumbly. Sow the seeds thinly in 1.3 cm (0.5 in) deep drills 30 cm (12 in) apart. Later thin the seedlings to 23 cm (9 in) apart in the rows. The plants should be kept well watered and free from weeds. Since the roots bleed easily if damaged by the hoe, it is a good idea to surround them with a weed-suppressing and moisture-retaining layer of moist peat.

Scorzonera, Iduns kokbok
Image via Wikipedia

Pests and diseases

None of any consequence.


In mild areas both salsify and scorzonera can be harvested throughout the winter as required. Otherwise the crop can be lifted in autumn and the roots stored in boxes of dry peat.

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